A Restorative Weekend at Carmel-by-the-Sea

We’ve just returned from a relaxing and restorative weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Getting away like this is rare for us. We’ve focused on raising our boys who are now teens. Once a year we do an overnight stay at a local hotel for our anniversary, but otherwise we’re close to home.ย  With our oldest son away at college and the younger one away for the weekend with friends, we pounced on the opportunity to get away.

carmel collage

Enjoying the weekend with my sweetie. On the coast, enjoying an iced tea at Basil’s, posing with gardenerd, wrapped up against the wind

The city website describes Carmel as

A city in the forest. A one-mile long pure white sandy beach.
A cultural mecca for the performing and visual arts.ย  Superb dining and shopping experiences. A storybook setting!

We stayed at La Playa Carmel, a boutique hotel originally built as a mansion by an artist as a gift to his wife. Most of the talented artists I know can only dream of making that kind of money.

When I shared holiday photos on Facebook, I learned that one of my friends honeymooned there 35 years ago. Another couple we know married at La Playa Carmel. I’m tickled to no end by this. Mike made all the arrangements, so I had no idea that we were staying at this charming place.

[Click on individual photos in the gallery to enlarge]

We enjoyed lunch and dinner in the historic city center, visited the cute little shops, and admired the beautiful landscape nestled among the Monterey Pines. Flowers bloomed in front of every home and shop in the area. It’s a gardener’s dream.


Sunday we awoke to a musical downpour. It cleared after breakfast, allowing us to go for a long walk. As we walked the beach trail we imagined ourselves living in one of the beach-side homes to our left as the waves crashed against the rocks to our right. They build these homes for maximum viewing of the sea. The average list price of a home in Carmel is north of $3 million dollars US. Gulp. It’s fun to dream, though, right?

It started raining again while we lunched at a fabulous Green-certified restaurant called Basil.

carmel the last straw

This gave us the chance to walk arm in arm under our new umbrella for one last stroll before heading home.


31 thoughts on “A Restorative Weekend at Carmel-by-the-Sea

  1. Oh, Alys! Your sweetie chose the most perfect storybook setting! The homes and gardens of Carmel are truly enchanting. (I have just added this magical place to my ‘Travel Dreams’ list!) ๐Ÿ’• There are many colorful plants that I have never seen before! I’m just smitten with the tree with the amazing, blue, spiky flowers!! So happy that you had such a lovely adventure… and shared it with us!! ๐ŸŒธ

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dawn, you would love Carmel. I hope you make it there one day. We barely scratched the surface. Nearby communities of Monterey and Pebble Beach are equally magnificent. I too fell in love with those spiky purple flowers they were everywhere. Here is a link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echium_candicans

      I’m surprised to read thought that they are considered invasive in areas trying to return to native plantings. What a shame.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Such a beautiful area to explore! Thank you for the fascinating link. Too bad they are considered invasive. It would be so nice to have one Echium candicans in a corner of your garden. The bees and butterflies would love it, too! Have a great week, dear Alys! โ™ก


  2. What a wonderful place to spend a romantic weekend. Looks like you brought your own chaperon or was he the secretary to take notes of all the lovely views and plants. The views are incredible and I loved the homes. I think I have a few extra million laying under the mattress. Then you get the magic of rain to boot. How lucky can you get. Your best luck was finding the guy that arranged all that wonderfulness. But if I went to that restaurant, I’ll have to remember to bring my own straw. Keep them in my purse at all times. Still can’t drink without one. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Just keep reusing them. Wish it wasn’t so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marlene, it was enchanting. I’m still coming down from the joyful weekend. Gardenerd spent a fair amount of time in the trunk of the car since three’s a crowd but we invited him along for some photo ops. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      The homes really are something. We were stunned at the amount of remodels going on there as well. Something of note was that every home under remodel had their trees wrapped with slats of wood, then covered with bright orange netting. They go out of their way to protect every single tree. It was nice to see.

      I kissed my share of toads before finding Mike. I never take him for granted.

      I’m sorry to hear that you still need a straw. That must be frustrating. Basil’s does have straws, but they’re paper and bio-degradable. I actually remember paper straws from my youth. Do you remember them, too?

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, I don’t remember any straws from my youth. Actually, I don’t remember much at all from that time. ๐Ÿ™‚ I like paper straws but they don’t work well in hot coffee or tea. Plastic isn’t a good thing to use in hot drinks but unless I find a very, very delicate cup rim, I leak out one side of my mouth. Kids have learned to ask for extra napkins for mommy when we dine out. Isn’t that a hoot? It used to be the other way around. You are indeed lucky. Or maybe waiting till later when you are more discerning has some pluses. I’ve never seen anyone wrap a tree. That would be worth the visit. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Golly Gumdrops, LOL. That’s what Lord Downtown said a couple of episodes ago! I can’t believe it’s over, pouty face.

    “Must go to Carmel By The Sea”, (I’m saying it like I’m hypnotized). That place is like a dream, as in unreal, too good to be true. Way to rock an Anniversary Mike. The hotel looked amazing, you looked amazing, Mike was wearing a cute hat, Gardenerd was on the scene, what a fab weekend! Did you see any sea lions? What did you buy in the shops? Are there any good vegetarian restaurants, Maybe we could me you both there sometime? Am I asking too many questions?

    That is a nice driveway isn’t it? I guess you have to have a nice one when your house is super cute. It’s so lovely and green. Was it humid? Congratulations on your Anniversary too! You still look totally smitten and that’s a beautiful thing. xoxox K

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that expression! And I miss Downtown terribly. Are you caught up? I’m really pleased with the final episode. I think they left our favorite characters in a good place. I’ll miss the parade of dresses each week, and the pseudo-drama. There’s been nothing else like it on TV.

      I would love to go with you to Carmel on your next visit. I thought about you a lot when we were looking at the cottages and shops. You’ll love it! It’s only an hour and a half drive with lovely vistas and open space. We’ll go for sure. We ate three meals out, dinner and two lunches, and each place had a few vegetarian options. The salads were delicious and fresh.

      It was cool and windy so I didn’t notice the humidity. Overall quite pleasant. We didn’t see any sea lions, perhaps because it was storming off and on or perhaps they just weren’t in that particular area.

      As for shopping, I picked up several gifts. That’s all I’m saying. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We also bought new belts and a few shirts for Mike, who’s really rocking the diet and has lost two pant sizes. He’s out of loops on his belts so he needed smaller ones! Go Mike!

      I seem perpetually stuck at this size darn it all. We walked a combined ten miles over the weekend, skipped desserts and ate a light breakfast and I still managed to gain a pound. Onward.

      On a more positive note, I had my first bone density scan yesterday and my doctor is thrilled. My risk of a hip fracture based on the matrix is 0.04 over the next decade. Weight bearing exercise totally pays off.xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good Morning lovely Alys โค I will absolutely look forward to another visit with a side trip to Carmel. I feel blessed to be invited again, mwaaaa. It looked coolish but sometimes that's nice for wandering around more-so than hot sun. The gardens didn't seem to mind one bit.
        As for one pound, please don't give that a second thought. Maybe you just hadn't used the ladies room, LOL. Honestly Alys, a person can go up and down during the day based on what they've ate or drank. I'm super happy for Mike too. Men seem to enjoy very quick weigh loss and make it look easy. Just one drawback, you have to be a dude and hey, I enjoy being a girl (sing that last part, LOL). โค โค โค


    • Thank you! It is magical. It’s like being in a cocoon when you’re there.

      We’ve missed those pick up and go weekends, so I’m looking forward to that time once again. I’m glad you’re enjoying your empty-nest.


  4. Well, good for you! What a lovely romantic weekend and you obviously have earned it, after all these years! Your photos do a great job of capturing the place and the sights–it looks wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kerry! This place really is a feast for the eyes and the soul. Everything is lush and green with the ever-present sound of the ocean nearby. The majestic pines, brick walkways, moss-lined roofs and cottages carry you back in time. A delight indeed.


  5. I’m back home too and catching up on blogs ๐Ÿ™‚ Your Mike is one in a million I think! I look at the two of you and feel all warm and fuzzy – it is so lovely to know you have such a wonderful man in your life and he is very fortunate to have found you too!!

    We have those echiums here too, they grow especially well in coastal areas and as they are given to escaping and spreading are on the ‘watch list’ just in case they get ideas above their station and try to take over the country………… My heart went flutter, flutter, woohoo, when I saw that fairy cottage photo [carmel home 03] – but as I just heard from the bank that the interest on my life savings of $5000 has just dropped to 3% I guess I won’t be buying it any time soon ๐Ÿ˜€

    Isn’t it wonderful to be by the sea? The sound of the ocean is something that always brings such a sense of peace and wonder to me and I think the opportunity to be by it cannot be missed, one will always return rested and restored.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Looks like Gardening Nirvana indeed! What a beautiful place to escape to with just the two of you, just looking at those Carmel homes makes me want to go inside and see more. I’m glad you enjoyed your break:)


  7. Pingback: August Doldrums: Dirty Air, Dryer Woes and a Cat Named Slinky – Gardening Nirvana

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